US stocks extend gains amid soaring oil, Fed minutes

New York, Feb 18 (IANS) US stocks surged for a third straight session on Wednesday, as Wall Street assessed spiking oil prices and the Federal Reserve’s minutes amid mixed data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 177.16 points, or 1.09 percent, to 16,373.57. The S&P 500 jumped 26.80 points, or 1.41 percent, to 1,922.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index surged 76.64 points, or 1.73 percent, to 4,512.59, Xinhua reported.

Investors were encouraged by a strong rebound in oil prices. Oil prices rocketed on Wednesday as Iran supported output freeze deal proposed by top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.

In response, the energy sector surged 2.92 percent as the biggest advancer among the S&P 500’s 10 sectors.

The Fed minutes released on Wednesday afternoon were also in focus.

According to the minutes released, in discussing the appropriate path for the target range for the federal funds rate over the medium term, policymakers agreed that it would be important to closely monitor global economic and financial developments and to continue to assess their implications for the labour market and inflation.

“The actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data,” the minutes said.

“Participants still have a two-percent medium-term inflation forecast. They are wary of financial market carnage, but don’t think it will affect the real economy. If the market continues to recover between now and March 16, the Fed will hike rates,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN financial.

On the economic front, US privately-owned housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,099,000, missing market consensus, the commerce department reported on Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand advanced 0.1 percent in January, above market estimates, the US labour department announced on Wednesday.

US industrial production increased 0.9 percent in January after decreasing 0.7 percent in December, said the Fed on Wednesday. The latest figure also beat market expectations.

Tokyo shares open sharply higher on upbeat US market, oil price

Tokyo shares opened the trading on Thursday sharply higher with its benchmark Nikkei stocks index briefly soaring over three percent on upbeat US stocks market overnight and rebounding oil prices.

At 9:15 a.m., the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average jumped 455.34 points, or 2.88 percent, higher from Wednesday to 16,291.70, Xinhua reported.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was up 34.84 points, or 2.72 percent, to 1, 317.24.

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